Wall-less House in Nagano / Shigeru Ban

© Hiroyuki Hirai

In 1997, Shigeru Ban completed the Wall-less House, also known as the House Without Walls. In this project, Ban creates a “universal floor,” a term coined by Robert Kronenberg in “Transportable Environments.”  Walls disappear, and only the essential elements for living remains. Each space is part of the “universal floor”: the floor of the restroom is the same used in the office, living room, or kitchen.

Wall-less House Technical Information

I believe that the material doesn’t need to be strong to be used to build a strong structure. The strength of the structure has nothing to do with the strength of the material.1

– Shigeru Ban

Wall-less House Photographs
Interior Space - Wall-less House in Nagano / Shigeru Ban

© Hiroyuki Hirai

Kitchen Interior - Wall-less House in Nagano / Shigeru Ban

© Hiroyuki Hirai

Shigeru Ban’s house shifts from a horizontal living platform into a vertical boundary in one seamless move,  blurring the edge conditions that make spatial reading possible. Its Cartesian geometry is deformed to meet program requirements; a field of the wall-ground hybrid protrudes into space like a table.

The surface formation establishes a ‘universal floor,’ on which spatial zones are positioned around the isolated objects of sanitary equipment. Space becomes adaptable and interpretable in the abandoning of specific areas related to the program. There is a shift of interior and exterior spatial boundaries. Rooms that were once public can be private and vice versa with the simple use of sliding walls.

Text by Shigeru Ban Architects

The house is built on a sloping site, and to minimize the excavation work, the rear half of the house is dug into the ground, the excavated earth being used as fill for the front half, creating a level floor. The floor surface at the embedded rear part of the house curls up to meet the roof, naturally absorbing the imposed load of the earth. The roof is flat and is fixed rigidly to the upturned slab freeing the three columns at the front from any horizontal charges.

As a result of bearing only vertical loads, these columns could be reduced to a minimum of 55 mm in diameter. All the walls and mullions were purged to express the structural concept as purely as possible, leaving sliding panels only. Spatially, the house consists of a ‘universal floor’ on which the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet are all placed without enclosure, but which can be flexibly partitioned by the sliding doors.

Wall-less House Plans

© Shigeru Ban

House Without Walls Image Gallery
About Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect known for his innovative work with paper, mainly recycled cardboard tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims. In 2014, Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of material and his dedication to humanitarian efforts around the world, calling him “a committed teacher who is not only a role model for the younger generations but also an inspiration.”

More Works from Shigeru Ban

  1. “FuturArc Interview.” Interview with Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle, www.futurarc.com. 2010.